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Red Cross launches biggest ever AIDS appeal

Dr Mukesh Kapila, 
Special Representative of the Secretary General (HIV/AIDS)
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. IFRC
Dr Mukesh Kapila, Special Representative of the Secretary General (HIV/AIDS) International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, urges donors "to move beyond rhetoric"
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an appeal on Wednesday to massively expand its anti-AIDS programme in Southern Africa over the next five years.

Speaking in Johannesburg, the Federation's new Special Representative for HIV and AIDS, Dr. Mukesh Kapila, urged international donor communities to move beyond rhetoric in meeting the needs of affected populations. The Federation is appealing for US$300 million to implement the expansion of its AIDS programme in the region.

With just a fraction of more than 12 million HIV-positive people in southern Africa currently accessing prevention, care and treatment services, the time for idly standing by and watching the pandemic exact its deadly toll, was over, said Kapila.

"We might have the human resources to quadruple our current programmes to reach 50 million people with prevention messages; over 460,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) with support; and 250,000 infected people with home-based care, but our plan can only materialise if our appeal is met," he told IRIN/PlusNews.

The Red Cross estimates that 1 million people a year die of AIDS-related illnesses in the region, and that the number of OVCs is 4.6 million and climbing.

In preparation for its long-term plan, the Federation recently joined forces with key partners to compile and distribute easy-to-use training tool-kits for community-based volunteers struggling to provide services.

Françoise Le Goff, head of the regional delegation based in Harare, Zimbabwe, described this initiative as just one example of what the Federation could achieve with sufficient support over the next five years.

"Expansion of our efforts comes at a time when most governments [in the region] are yet to define targets for their own anti-AIDS campaigns, even more than 25 years into the pandemic," she said.

The new programme would include a focus on reducing stigma and discrimination and tackling gender-based violence.

"Today is a historic moment for our organization, being the first time ever that we are committing so many resources to tackling the long term development problem that is AIDS," Goff noted.

Echoing Le Goff's sentiments, Mandisa Kalako-Williams, president of the South Africa Red Cross Society, said that for too long scores of HIV-positive people in the country have been falling through the cracks due to inadequate human resources and support.

"This scaling-up of the Federation's activities could help alleviate the bottle-neck created by people desperately seeking care at public health facilities already buckling under the pressure. More importantly, this appeal will help expand these life-prolonging interventions beyond urban centres to the all too often overlooked rural communities," Kalako-Williams commented.

Angola, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe are among the 10 countries that stand to benefit from the Federation's expanded AIDS programme.


[Produced in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: http://www.ifrc.org]

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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